Steatite jar

From Ur, southern Iraq
Early Dynastic period, about 2600-2400 BC

This fragmentary bowl demonstrates the extensive trade network that linked the cities of southern Mesopotamia with the rest of the Near East.

It was found in one of the graves in the cemetery at Ur. It may have been manufactured in Iran where there is evidence at the site of Tepe Yahya for both manufacture and reworking of such carved chlorite vessels. Such vessels, dating between the late fourth and late third millennia BC, have been found widely from the Gulf to Pakistan. Nothing is known of what was transported in such pots but it is likely to have been luxury produce.

Carved steatite vessels have been divided into two types, based on the style of their decoration. The designs may have had religious significance and it has been suggested that some represent corrals for animals.

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More information


P.R.S. Moorey, Ancient Mesopotamian materials (Oxford, 1994)

P. Delougaz, 'Architectural representations on steatite vases', Iraq-2, 22 (1960), pp. 90-95


Height: 9.200 cm
Diameter: 11.430 cm

Museum number

ME 121697


Donated by the Brighton Museum


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